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11 year old picking on her 9 year old brother for his learning difficulties

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My 11 year old daughter is attending an online school at home.  She is truly gifted and seems to have developed an uppity attitude over her high I.Q. 


Anyhow, she has a 9 year old brother who has an autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia and learning difficulties.  He has consistently scored on the borderline mentally impaired range on his I.Q. tests, although he does have some amazing talents when it comes to engineering building items, story writing and art.  His motivation to learn is amazing and while he does have an educational assistant, he has been keeping up with his classmates in school in most of his subjects other than reading.


While my daughter is usually careful to not say anything cruel to her brother within my earshot, I have heard her make some fairly cruel digs to him.  I've heard her laugh at him for his choice in "little kid" books, will make snide remarks about how he'll never achieve her grades, etc.  She will tell him that everyone in his school dislikes him.  Other times, she has pretended that she cannot understand him.  (He has difficulties with articulation.)


I know that this sounds like my 11 year old isn't a very nice person.  The thing that is odd is that she is usually extremely sweet and sensitive.  She's always been well behaved.  For the most part, she gets along awesomely with her brother.  She isn't growing up in a verbally abusive environment, so I don't know where she's getting the idea that it's okay.  I've discussed with her that her words are hurtful and she seems to be remorseful.  When I ask her why she says these things, sometimes she says that she's sick of how much time her brother takes up.  I've explained to her why he needs this time and I do my best to make sure that I spend quality time with her.


I grew up in a verbally abusive household as a child and was bullied, so I no firsthand how deeply words can sting.  I cannot stand hearing her say things like that and while I know this sounds overly dramatic - I actually feel like a failure that I've raised a child who can say such cruel things.  I've tried just about everything to get her to stop, short of corporal punishment. 



post #2 of 8

I think if she has expressed that she is upset about how much time her brother takes up then it really should be addressed.  Not saying what she's doing is ok, but perhaps she needs some reconnection.  Can you and your dh(if you have one) give her a special half day/day with just her weekly?  Perhaps even just an hour a day focused on her?


post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for your reply.  I do appreciate your advice.  When I asked about this on another forum, the advice there wasn't quite so understanding toward my daughter.


I do agree that her feelings do need to be addressed.  My husband and I have always tried to spend one-on-one time with the three of our children.  Maybe she's just getting at a vulnerable age and needs some more.  Tweens are definitely more complicated than infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  When my 21 month old is upset, I usually always know exactly what to do to help her.  :P

post #4 of 8

While thinking about your daughters feelings is important, and if she needs more one-on-one time, you should do what you can to make that happen.  However, you also need to make her aware that bullying is 100% unacceptable, regardless the reason.  She is 9yo, if she needs more attention she needs to ask for it - not bully her brother.  With only a 2yo ds, I don't have any advice, but I wish you luck!

post #5 of 8

I'd take a 2 pronged approach:

1. I'd call her on it every single time she does it, ask her to apologize and do some 'community service' for the family to work off her 'debt'. Ideally, it would be doing something nice for her brother or to help her brother. Part of this is developmentally typical, but that doesn't mean you have to let it slide. The 11-12 year olds I know can be just like you describe your daughter -- Jekyll and Hyde-ish -- sometimes really sweet and then sometimes really cruel. I believe firmly that it's not good to let the cruel stuff slide.


2. I'd see if there are any Sibshops in your area: http://www.siblingsupport.org/about/copy_of_index_html -- the sibling support network is set up to help siblings of children with developmental challenges. Sibshops are workshops and/or groups where siblings can vent/talk about the difficulties, joys and worries of having a sibling with a special need.

post #6 of 8

I would absolutely call her out on it each time.  Keep her in check when she does that.  


BUT..she's 11, and 11 yr old girls get annoyed by 9 yr old brothers.  She's acting normal, but her circumstances aren't normal.  He is probably even more irritating than the average 9 yr old, and yet, he's so sweet, she probably feels bad.  So, while you call her out on it, also understand that she's at an age where everything is going to be annoying to her.  It gets worse before it gets better.  


Her attitude is normal.  But, she has to work a little harder to keep her thoughts to herself.  

post #7 of 8

I know i've told my kids they can write things down when they're thinking that way, it gets it out but so no one else hears, then they can crumple the paper and throw it away.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow - thanks everyone.  It does help to hear that her while this specific behavior of hers is cruel - that it is normal.  I'm relieved to hear that.  There's quite a bit of advice here that I'm eager to use.


Lynn - There aren't any of those workshops near me, but I'm going to look into finding out if there are any similar ones.



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